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4 ways oil spills jeopardize the environment

On Behalf of | Sep 25, 2021 | Environmental Law |

If you heard about or even saw with your own eyes the Golden Ray cargo ship that capsized just south of Savannah almost two years ago, you probably know what a catastrophe it has been. While there were no lives lost, the impact the accident is having on the coastal waters of Georgia is not yet visible.  

The shipwreck lay on a sandbar in the water month after month while bureaucrats debated about what to do. The ultimate decisions resulted in a massive oil spill. Authorities believe the cleanup from the spill might go well into the winter months, and there is no predicting the toll it will take on the plants, animals and humans in the area. 

Golden Ray oil spill 

Whether you live along the coast, own a business, or simply care about the health and safety of the waters and shores of the state, you may have grave concerns about this accident and other incidents that jeopardize those precious natural resources. The Golden Ray cargo ship capsized while hauling over 4,000 new vehicles.  

Many of the vehicles became damaged and leaked their own toxic fluids in addition to the nearly 44,000 gallons of oil the ship carried. During the salvaging of sections of the wreckage, much of that oil dumped into the water, but for over two years, the disabled ship lay in the sound, discharging chemicals. 

What is the impact? 

One environmental watchdog group says that the full impact of the oil spill will not be apparent until environmental agencies do a damage assessment, but you might not be aware of some of the possible effects such an accident may have, including: 

  • Restricted mobility for animals, such as flying or swimming, when they become covered in oil 
  • Cancer or other illnesses in animals that ingest the oil while cleaning themselves or eating other organisms covered in oil 
  • Damage or destruction of marsh grass and other food sources 
  • Destruction of habitats, especially for those animals lower on the food chain 

While oil may not directly harm humans, it’s a mess for beachgoers, to say the least, and this can certainly affect some area businesses. Hurricanes and changing tides make it difficult to contain pollutants that end up in the water, so there is no predicting how far and wide the devastation of an oil spill may reach. Like many in Georgia, you may have questions about who is responsible when such incidents place the coastlines at risk. 

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